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04 30 2014

04 30 2014

Consumers Displaying Improved Confidence as Spring Arrives

Consumer sentiment reached a nine-month high in April, as Americans’ expectations for the economy improved with the emergence from an extended winter lull.

According to the Thompson Reuters/University of Michigan final reading for the month, the consumer sentiment index measured 84.1, a sharp improvement from both the preliminary reading of 82.6 and 80 for March. That figure also bested economists’ expectations for an index score of 83, Reuters reported.

Buoyed primarily by improved perceptions for the current economic conditions, the overall index reading was the highest seen since July 2013. The current conditions gauge, which increased to 98.7, represented the most promising figure seen for that particular barometer since prior to the recession – July 2007.

Consumer expectations were also greatly improved, from a reading of 70 in March to 74.7 for April. The reading for inflation expectations, meanwhile, was mostly unchanged, with the five-to-10 year inflation outlook edging upward from 2.9 in March to a preliminary estimate of 3.0.

“Perhaps the most important question is whether consumer confidence will show greater resistance to the backslides that have repeatedly occurred in the past few years,” said Richard Curtin, the survey’s director. “Resilience is dependent on positive long term economic expectations. While near term expectations have improved substantially, longer term expectations for personal finances as well as the overall economy have not improved as much.”

Some of the slippage to which Curtin is referring was evident during the first quarter, when harsh winter weather caused slowdowns across many sectors, from manufacturing to housing to retail.

But as consumer sentiment improves for the long term, it could lead to broader expansion for businesses of all sizes. In the event that smaller firms find themselves fielding more opportunities, the equipment leasing options provided by companies such as National Funding can offer a helpful assist in efficiently managing new demand.

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